One might think that I’ve not taken the RIP challenge seriously, as I have not yet posted a single review. Well, I need to change that.
A few nights ago, I stumbled upon a short story from 1899 called, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
It is about a Victorian-era woman who has been diagnosed with one of the vague medical conditions of that era. She has been prescribed a regimen of rest and taking air, and is forbidden from engaging in any sort of work or exercise. (Of course, she secretly continues her writing, in order to narrate the story.) Her husband rents a large home in the country, and puts her in what is essentially the attic, where the windows are barred, the bed is nailed to the floor, and a gate bars the stairway. Yes, she is basically imprisoned.
Her constant companion is the room’s hideous wallpaper, imprinted with something that I can only describe as an anti-Feng-Shui pattern. It seems to be designed to confuse and distress, rather than to comfort and soothe. With no other activities to occupy her mind, she attempts to decode the mystery of the pattern, with tragic results.
I enjoyed this story. I thought it to be a good example of Gothic fiction, with its mystery and psychological terror. Although Lovecraft wouldn’t begin to write for another decade, I thought the mystery of the wallpaper perfectly echoed his theme of alien knowledge causing madness.
Shortly after finishing this story, I discovered this comic in the Hark A Vagrant archives:
So what is next for RIP? Stay tuned!